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Rail Freight Users Commend Government Action

Rail Freight Users Commend Government Action

The Rail Freight Action Group has congratulated the Government for its decisive intervention in the structure of rail services in New Zealand, announced today.

RFAG, a lobby group established by some of New Zealand's largest exporters, says the Government clearly recognizes the benefits to the economy of gaining control of the rail network and changing the way in which rail freight services are delivered.

In a statement today, RFAG says it has not yet studied the detail of the Government's planned intervention, but believes the changes should be positive for all stakeholders.

"We will be particularly interested in the terms in the agreement which establish the circumstances under which another operator can gain access to the network, as we believe the possibility of competition is essential to extract the best outcomes from the changes announced today."

RFAG spokesperson Cedric Allan says if the planned changes are successful, and exporters can gain satisfactory contracts and improved service levels, there is potential for much greater freight volumes to go by rail.

"At the moment, more than $100 million dollars a year is being lost through the inability to obtain satisfactory rail freight contracts."

Mr Allan said it was clearly in the national interest for there to be a coordinated approach to national transport issues, such as dealing with the emerging "wall of wood" in the North Island, and for rail, road and coastal shipping all to play an appropriate role.

"The Government's proposals to invest in the network should enable it to be progressively brought up to standard, so that rail is no longer hamstrung with weight and speed restrictions resulting from the run down condition of the track. Government ownership will also enable the network to be improved and enlarged whenever this is judged to be in the national interest."

Mr Allan said RFAG looked forward to constructive discussions with the Government, the company and other stakeholders to maximise the positive outcomes from the Government's action.

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